Last year I took an art class. It was very much on a whim; I was frustrated at not having had any real training in art, after GCSEs (where I had left everything to the last minute and then roped in my friend and partner in crime Katie to help me glue bits of green string on to a strange relief thing I’d done out of the stuff doctors put on a broken bone – it seemed like a good idea at the time and netted me a C grade). I had then knocked anything arty on the head, until my friend Alana put some oil paints and a canvas in my hand, much in the way someone might give crayons to a toddler, to keep me entertained whilst she painted something excellent. I had no idea what to do, so I started mushing paints together on the canvas, and miraculously, it didn’t actually look totally horrendous. And I’ve been turning out mediocre pieces of art since then, on a very sporadic basis. But last year I thought, imagine if I could actually do this. Imagine if I knew all the techniques and could actually paint something that someone else might actually want. Something they might pay cash cash money for. So I found an art class at my local college, found out it started that very evening, and booked myself on. It was pretty good, though I stupidly made this decision in November, and being a winter hermit, I had trouble dragging myself away from the fire and the dogs (and Ian, obvs). So I missed a couple of lessons, did some oil painting (much like the acrylics I was used to using, but slower in drying, so you have a bit more time to mush things together) and some watercolour, which to be honest I still don’t understand, and just mush together in much the same way as I mush acrylics. I think I would quite like to revisit watercolours, but I had to stop the class, because it cost too much cash cash money, when giving away cash cash money rather than receiving it was not on my list of priorities. At my last class I mentioned I wouldn’t be coming back next week as I had no more pennies to spend on arting around, and they looked surprised. “Don’t your parents pay?” they asked in horror, as though I was some kind of child forced to pay for their own art lessons from the money they made from sweeping chimneys. At first I was all, ‘Yeah, still got the dewy wrinkle-free skin of a teenager, lalala,” then I realised it was actually because the art I was turning out was so childlike they had assumed I was, in fact, a child.
Anyway. As much as I resented going outside when it was dark, it did get me painting, and when I stopped going I told everyone ‘But I will continue to paint even without the classes!”
I did not.
Two nights ago I was feeling particularly annoyed with my slovenly self, sitting watching boxsets and not even remembering the last episode as my brain dissolved and dribbled out my ears. So I dug out some lovely pens my sister had bought me for Christmas and I drew the dogs. And it looked quite okay. And I thought, I would get better if I did this every day. And then I thought, Holy Batbananas, why DON’T I do this every day? And then I remembered, because I am lazy and quite like not doing anything and watching boxsets as my brain dissolves and exits via the ear. But then I thought, what if I give myself a challenge? My old boss used to say ‘Little challenge for you Amanda, go and get all the phone numbers of all the schools in the areas and put them in a database that we will never use’, and thusly my insides turn to ice whenever anyone says ‘I have a challenge for you’ – honestly, I would be much more receptive if someone said ‘I have a problem for you I don’t want to solve myself and wish you to solve for me’, at least that’s honest. But anyway, I gave myself a CHALLENGE – to be creative every day, and take a picture of my efforts to share on social media so that I will be ASHAMED if I fail.
Luckily writing blog posts counts as being creative so that’s day 3 ticked off.
Here is Day 1, the dogs that started the whole thing:
And Day 2, a leaf (of direct clothing)*
*No one will get this joke except Sara, who also might not get it. I can explain it if you wish but the pay off is not worth the explanation.